Stage is set for Perse Players’ latest production

Audiences can expect an “intimate” and “moving” show in a stunning new-look setting when the Perse Players’ production of A Monster Calls hits the stage next week.

Adapted from the award-winning Patrick Ness novel, A Monster Calls centres around a boy named Conor, whose mother has terminal cancer, and the relationship he builds with the Monster, who is formed of the yew tree in his back garden, during their meetings at 12.07am each day.

Perse Theatre Practitioner in Residence Andrew Pritchard, who is directing the production, said: “It tackles some really challenging themes and it’s a really moving piece of work, but one that has a lot of hope.

“There’s an opportunity for a lot of creativity as well and it’s a real challenge for a Perse Players production, but one the students have risen to. They’re doing excellent work in rehearsals with real high-quality acting.”

Forty-four actors from Year 7 to Upper Sixth will appear in the show, with four performances running from Thursday 24 November to Saturday 26 November, including a relaxed matinee on the latter date.

Key roles have been double cast, including Emma Walshe (Year 9) and Sam Ronco (Year 10) playing Conor, Rory Ward-Thomas (Year 11) and Izzy Bevens (Upper Sixth) the Monster, and Paloma Bargh (Year 10) and Gabriella Bedford (Upper Sixth) as Conor’s mum.

Meanwhile, a new stage has been created in the middle of the Peter Hall Performing Arts Centre auditorium for the production, with the performances being set in the round with audience members on all four sides. On top of this, another stage is being built featuring a ramp and trap door.

Mr Pritchard said: “It’s not a configuration we’ve used before and it’s been quite a mammoth task to set up, but it will make it a really intimate production.

“Many of the students haven’t performed in the round before, so the first task was to get the actors comfortable with it.

“There’s no right or wrong for them in terms of where the audience is, but we had to change certain habits and work on their vocal resonance so they can be heard 360 degrees.

“It requires a very naturalistic performance to make sure people can really believe in the story and the whole ensemble will also be present on stage for the entire time, so it requires them to have a larger focus.”

With work only beginning on A Monster Calls early in the term, Mr Pritchard was thrilled with how the cast had responded to the challenge.

He said: “We had to hit the ground running and we’ve been rehearsing pretty intensely, but we’ve tried to make sure they’ve had a real balanced workload to make sure it’s manageable while getting the best out of them.

Funds will be raised for the Teenage Cancer Trust at the performances, which take place on:

Tickets are priced from £5 to £15 and available from our online box office.


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